Spiritual direction is a classic practice of the Church that has its roots in ancient monastic communities. However, the basis for spiritual direction is rooted in the biblical witness. The relationship between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim can be best understood from two biblical images from the Gospel of John. In John 14:23, Jesus states, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Furthermore, in John 14-16, Jesus speaks about the work of the paraclete who is to come. This is the Holy Spirit and paraclete is a Greek word that literally means “to come/walk alongside.” Thus, the spiritual director is someone who journeys alongside a spiritual pilgrim to assist them in establishing a spiritual home in Christ.
As an introduction to Spiritual Direction, I offer a nine-session process called self-tabernacling. Below are some details about what is expected of those who take part in this process, what spiritual direction is, and what spiritual direction is not.
- To commit to meeting with me, one-on-one, for spiritual direction for 90 minutes once a month for nine months.
- To be willing to learn and explore the depths of the life of spiritual formation in Christ.
- To commit to confidentiality between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim.
- To commit to engaging weekly with the Word and Spirit Guide (available at www.thewordandspirit.org).
- To commit to regular Bible study, prayer, and spiritual reflection, both in and outside of formal spiritual direction settings.
WHAT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IS:
- An opportunity to build your life into a “tabernacle” of God’s presence.
- An opportunity to grow in your faith and grow closer to God.
- An opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you relate to God.
- An invitation to grace and to a renewed daily life of intimacy with God.
WHAT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IS NOT:
- Therapy or counseling.
- An informal “gab” session.
- A light or trivial commitment.
The schedule for this cycle of spiritual direction is as follows:
Session 1 – Building a Spiritual Home: Biblical Images of Home Building and the Process of Self-Tabernacling
We will explore the foundations of the practice of spiritual direction and the relationship between spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim. Particular attention will be given to the images of home-building or tabernacling that appear in Scripture. The spiritual pilgrim will begin the process of opening up him/herself to the work of being personally made into a tabernacle of God’s presence in soul, mind, heart, and strength (Luke 10:27).
Session 2 – Soul Home: Spiritual Witness – Testimony
We will explore how we connect to God through our Christian experience. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our soul. This process will include giving expression to our own testimony to God’s work and presence in our past and present. This will enable us to better understand God’s work and presence in our future.
Session 3 – Heart Home: Spiritual Affect – Confession
We will begin to explore how we connect to God through our core convictions and our spiritual affect. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our hearts. This process will include confessing and exploring our iniquities, infirmities, and injustices, experiencing how God responds to us each individually in specific manifestations of grace.
Session 4 – Heart Home: Spiritual Affect – Affirmation
We will continue to explore how we connect to God through our core convictions and our spiritual affect. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our hearts. This process will include determining and exploring our foundational beliefs and forming a personal affirmation of faith.
Session 5 – Mind Home: Spiritual Understanding – Theological Worlds
We will explore how we connect to God through our understanding and cognitive faculties. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our minds. This process will include determining and examining our predominant “theological world” with the help of W. Paul Jones’s book Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief. In this stage we will be utilizing Jones’s Theological Worlds Inventory.
Session 6 – Strength Home: Spiritual Practice – God Language
We will explore how we connect to God through spiritual practice. Particular attention will be given to how we construct a tabernacle of God’s presence within our behavior/activity (our strength). This process will include determining and examining our “spiritual temperament” and our natural inclinations toward “spiritual practice” with the help of Dr. Myra Perrine’s book What’s Your God Language?: Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament. In this stage we will be utilizing both Dr. Perrine’s The Spiritual Temperament Inventory and her The Spiritual Practices Inventory.
Session 7 – My Spiritual Home Constructed
We will examine the spiritual home as a whole, uniting the different elements of soul, heart, mind, and strength. Particular attention will be given to how the Word and Spirit can be engaged in the context of the spiritual home and to how the spiritual home will allow the pilgrim to self-tabernacle (make him/herself continuously available as a mobile temple of God’s presence in whatever context the pilgrim finds him/herself). The spiritual director and spiritual pilgrim will develop a plan for continued spiritual direction.
Session 8 – Spiritual Hospitality
We will examine how the spiritual home becomes a setting in which the pilgrim fulfills the call of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Particular attention will be given to opening the spiritual home of the pilgrim to others in self-giving hospitality. We will explore both the implications of self-tabernacling and ongoing opportunities to “tabernacle among” others (John 1:14).